23rd March 2020

23-March-2020 16:35
in General
by Admin

We are continuing to let the vast majority of the horses down for their summer break, we have removed their rugs during the day for now but these nights are still too cold to leave them stripped. The weather is being kind for a change, given another week or more of this weather and we can seriously think about getting some out day and night if the fields dry back sufficiently. 


I’m not going to ramble, unlike the masses who decided to swamp the countryside over the weekend but I just don’t understand what is wrong with people. The fact they fail to carry out strict guidelines given by the government in order to combat the Corona virus is simply mind blowing stupid. Some even have to nerve to blame the Prime Minster for his mixed messages. Should people continually fail to understand simple advice and what is being asked of them there is no hope of life returning to any form of normality for some time yet. 


The thoughts below came from Portwenn:


Remember The Diamond Princess? The cruise liner tied up alongside in Japan while coronavirus moved from its kitchen staff (it turned out) through its paying passengers. It feels like a long time ago and a lot has happened since. But it does beg one key question; if world authorities were already aware of the potential hazards of this virus back then, why did they not order immediate shutdowns –particularly in air travel and border controls?

Quite simply because they knew it was already “out there” and it was ahead of them. But additionally Draconian shutdowns have huge effects on public behavior, morale and funds. Citizens stranded abroad, social unrest, anti-social unrest (which is a better description for panic buying). You have to get the timing right. And you have to be prepared to adjust your timing as circumstances unfold. Be flexible. As long as those in Authority have done their best to apply all the facts before them, there is no right or wrong. One country closes its borders, another keeps them open but both keep their options open. And things can change overnight.

In racing we are used to things changing at short notice. “Abandonment because we had more rain than expected” is fresh in the mind of late. Non-runners, jockey changes, hurdles omitted down the back straight. No doubt you can add to the list. We are used to it and work around it. 

I think the BHA decision to abandon all racing in the UK as from last Wednesday was the easy option as opposed to a considered opinion. I have come to this conclusion because I cannot get to the hard facts behind their decision –the office in London is closed down and their website lacks any factual detail in a brief almost cursory statement, the nub of which is that BHA officials were being guided by Government.

But how many Government representatives understand the “bigger picture” behind horseracing. Not many would be my guess and why should they? So it was left to the BHA to represent the industry and I fear they failed to do so. If they did then were the following aspects of sudden shut-down considered? I think we are entitled to ask because they haven’t explicitly said so.

Firstly –and no apologies for starting with this- horse welfare. This decision could put yards (breeding backing and training) out of business. Racing columns often champion the conditions in which our horses live but let’s not pretend that there isn’t a darker background when money dries up. And it can happen suddenly. What is currently happening on world stock markets will be reflected in every commodity market. And racehorses are a commodity. That the BHA should suddenly pull the industry from under their feet has dire implications.

Before I am accused of caring more about horses than humans let me say that I started with the horses because their plight is more straightforward; they are totally dependent on us.

Now the human element; this industry is a substantial employer of young committed hard-working people who are also dependent at some level. Whilst it provides paid employment to some, it provides entertainment to many – most of us watch most of it on our TV screens. It is something to look forward to, to think about, and to discuss. To have a fun bet. And to get out of bed for in the morning. At some level I believe all sport has a beneficial effect on mental health of followers. I said previously that it enhances my weekends; I am more conscious of that today as I sit watching racing from Thurles. And we cannot say this enough….behind closed doors and out in the fresh air there should be no issues of disease spread, crowd control, traffic marshalling, drunken behavior etc. 

The most compelling and legitimate reason for abandoning racing (already behind closed doors) should have been when the emergency services say we need the paramedics and the course doctors out in the wider community. When one injured jockey or motorcyclist or rock climber attending A+E is one too many. I cannot imagine anybody would argue with that and it seems that the day will come soon. It will come in some areas before others – the London venues are probably already in that category. It takes one phone call from the Racecourse manager to the local emergency services chief……”over to you Chief can we or can’t we?” And if abandonment is at short notice we get it. Because it is a considered opinion based on fact. Not because it’s an easy option helped through by those meant to represent the industry.